If they are legally seen as such, this seems to me a pretty egregious (egregiously counterproductive) legal fiction. There is no way that members of a legislature can have the time to go through the minute levels of detail and wording that would be as carefully considered as it would by the actual draftspeople.

In this way, certain wording and grammatically ambiguous idiosyncrasies can seemingly never be debated on the legislatures' floors, or any level of detail perhaps beyond debates of the inclusion or omission of an entire particular clause or section etc, on which legislators seem to be briefed. So in interpretation, often when a question turns on minute grammatical seeming-oversights, Hansard (or international equivalent) debate transcripts would seem to be of no help, and the only way that one could gain the equivalent (yet useful) insight in interpreting true intent to the extent that it was actually possessed by any humans involved in the legislative process would be to look into the internal notes remnant from the drafting process in the Office of Legislative Draftspeople.

Is this distinction of legislature and legislative drafts office ever recognised to enable one to look behind the scenes, beyond the actual legislature-members themselves to the people actually turning the gears, in a legal context?

Not sure how this question would intersect with parliamentary (or international equivalent, so far as it exists) privilege.

Corollary, this question is premised in the first paragraph on an assumed answer to the question of the level of familiarity that actual legislators/MPs gain with the minutiae of legislation, ie that they don't have time to go into all the minute details and in fact fairly far from it. Is that actually accurate? Perhaps this is a second question.

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    I suggest you read this speech by a UK Supreme Court Justice, which may correct some of your misconceptions about legislative intention. Quote: "in construing a statute the courts do not in fact try to identify the subjective intentions of individual legislators as a guide to interpretation. The courts do not issue writs for disclosure of the personal diaries of legislators to inform the interpretative process."
    – Stuart F
    Mar 6, 2023 at 15:52
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    "can seemingly never be debated on the legislatures' floors" - indeed, because for most bills, and in the specific case of the House of Commons, line-by-line scrutiny (i.e. committee stage) takes place in a committee, not on the floor of the House. The Lords do more of this in their Chamber rather than in a separate committee. Mar 6, 2023 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


These roles are distinct. See e.g. Mikisew Crew First Nation v. Canada (Governor General in Council), 2018 SCC 40 at para. 160. There, the reasons distinguish between all the various actors involved in a bill's preparation. The legislation drafting team at the Department of Justice (and in fact, all of the executive branch process leading up to a bill's introduction) is presented as distinct from the consideration of the bill in Parliament.

The internal preparatory work and drafting is protected by Parliamentary privilege.

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